Industry calls for PM Rishi Sunak to take action over red tape and supply chain

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Industry calls for new PM Rishi Sunak to support food and drink sector
Industry calls for new PM Rishi Sunak to support food and drink sector

Related tags Supply chain

The food and drink industry has called on new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to support the sector by cutting red tape, reducing costs and working more collaboratively with businesses.

Sunak took over as Prime Minister yesterday and set about appointing his cabinet from across the Conservative Party. Importantly for the sector Dr Theresa Coffey MP was given the role as secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs. 

Industry reaction was swift to the fast moving political situation with representatives of the industry calling for support for the security of the supply chain. 

Food & Drink Federation chief executive Karen Betts welcomed Rishi Sunak as PM.

“As Chancellor, he ensured businesses had support to continue operating in extremely difficult circumstances, which was critical to the security of the food and drink supply chain,” ​said Betts.

“We now face a different set of challenges. Food and drink businesses across the country are facing the toughest trading conditions anyone can remember. We hope the new Prime Minister will bring stability, not least in economic and energy policy, so businesses can make long-term plans alongside working with government to bear down on record levels of food and drink price inflation.  Regulatory reform remains an important part of this, to streamline red tape and stop avoidable costs being imposed on businesses and shoppers when they can least afford it.”

The British Frozen Food Federation’s (BFFF) demanded that the PM act immediately to address the cost of production crisis being faced by UK food manufacturers.

Soaring costs

“The new PM needs to address the soaring costs being faced by the UK’s food producers or risk many people going hungry this winter,”​ said BFFF ceo Rupert Ashby.

“There has rightly been a great deal of focus on the rising costs of energy, but less debate about the knock-on effects it is having on businesses that keep the country fed.

“Our members have been hit with a triple whammy of rising costs for ingredients, packaging and transport all of which are driving-up production costs which will have to be passed onto consumers if they are to stay in business. This will drive up the cost of the weekly shop making feeding a family unaffordable for many people.”​ 

He also called for the new premier to clarify the energy support package, ease labour movement regulations, permanently suspend checks on EU goods entering the UK, action to fight climate change and to reduce the 4.5mtonnes of edible food thrown away by UK households every year. 

Andrew Pyne, chief executive of the Federation of Bakers, said: “The Federation of Bakers would like to see the new PM, Rishi Sunak, help mitigate inflationary pressures that are not just hurting households but also the bakery sector and its value chain. 

“We are also seeking economic stability and confidence in the energy policy, beyond the current six months, to help bakery businesses plan for the future. It is also key that regulatory reforms support the industry and prevent further cost pressures on businesses and households.” 

The meat industry also called for action with British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) ceo Nick Allen highlighting the need for collaboration with businesses. 

“We want to make sure that, before they enact any changes to legislation or sign off any new trade deals, they consult on the technical details and implications with the companies and individuals that will be impacted and who know most about the subject,”​ he said.

The BMPA along with 13 other trade associations for the meat sector including the National Farmers Union and the International Meat Trade Association have written to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) highlighting the impact of new red tape which could see a huge amount of British meat exports to the EU become non-compliant overnight.

In a joint letter it said that regulatory changes are about to be introduced by DEFRA, which insist on a vet attestations rather than previously agreed farmer declarations that will have a “devastating effect” on farmers, auction markets and meat processors. 

Meanwhile.  Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), which is also a signatory to the letter, has called for the new DEFRA minister,  who has previously worked within the Government department to support the sector. 

Labour and regulation

Being a Suffolk MP we trust that she will immediately look to support the poultry sector who are facing the challenges of Avian Influenza, increased costs of production and the possibility that cheap poultry which may have been produced with contaminated fee in Poland, might find its way to the UK,”​ said Tony Goodger, head of marketing at AIMS. 

“We also hope that she will address the issue of labour shortages and burdensome regulation to help our industry remain competitive.”

The drinks sector has also called for immediate Government action.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) said it wanted the freeze on alcohol duty and alcohol duty reforms to be reinstated.  

“Our pubs and brewers are in desperate need of relief. The cost of doing business is completely out of control and whilst we welcomed an intervention on energy it is just one of a myriad of spiralling costs our publicans and brewers are facing​,” said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA.  

“The PM has shown before that he believes in our sector as one that is not only at the heart of so many communities across the country, but also that with the right investment our sector the potential to deliver jobs, growth and support local economies in every part of the UK.” ​ 

While Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said the alcohol industry is currently facing a catalogue of threats which could be the “death knell”​ for some British businesses and lead to substantial price hikes for consumers. 

Two acute issues causing concern currently are the u-turn on the freeze to alcohol duty and the rocketing price of glassAdd to this ongoing supply chain problems, continuing problems with future changes the way alcohol is taxed, increased production costs due to the price of energy and other inflationary pressures that could threaten businesses and undermine consumer demand. Bluntly, the Government needs to listen to businesses and take supportive action,” ​Beale said. 


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